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Friday, September 17, 2010

TwitChange

Although I am a native New Yorker, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time living in the bible belt, both during my college years and now as a mother and homeowner. During my formative years I was extremely active in the church but as a college student I fell off and spent countless evenings with friends making fun of the “healing” that you could find televangelists doing on a daily basis.  I’ve been back in Atlanta for close to five years now, and I left a church home in NY where I was a member of the choir, the step team and the young adult ministry. Although I tried to find a church home when I initially moved here I didn’t find one that “clicked” with me and I gave up. This is quite interesting considering there is literally a church on every corner.

After giving up my quest for a church I maintained a personal relationship with God and much of the time I used to spend doing church activities became devoted to social networking.  I’d occasionally hint at my faith or drop tidbits about prayer but much like the government I kept a separation of “church” and “social media”.

That is until I met Shaun King. I use the word “met” loosely because our interaction was exclusively on twitter, our respective blogs and facebook.  I recall “meeting” him because he is local to Atlanta and after visiting his blog I realized he is a graduate of Morehouse and therefore my “brother”( I am a Spelman grad and the schools maintain a brother/sister relationship).  I followed Shaun’s journey as he planted a church in Atlanta while attending graduate school at Emory, being a husband and father to five children.

He not only successfully started the Courageous Church but he soon became known as the “Facebook Pastor” because his outreach is done utilizing social media. And if you are thinking his twitter stream is filled with messages of “come to Jesus” you are totally off the mark. From a toy drive for 500 children, to coming to the aid of the victims of the 2009 Atlanta flood, he has used his influence in social media to make a difference. And lives up to the vision of the church “Love God, Love People, Prove It”

He has a small congregation with a far reach. When the earthquakes hit Haiti he was among one of the first to visit and rally to get doctors and much needed supplies on the ground. He started the non-profit organization A Home in Haiti initially to provide much needed tents for the displaced. Actress Eva Longoria jumped on board and reached out to her friends - soon $1.4 million was raised to provide tents.

The newest endeavor is to provide a physical home for severely disabled children in Haiti by building the Miriam Center. Last month two groups accompanied Shaun to Haiti to break ground for the Miriam Center. Over $30,000 was raised for this effort but it falls short of the approximately $1M needed to finish the project.

To bridge this gap, Shaun utilized innovative thinking and on September 15th Twitchange.com was launched to benefit A Home in Haiti. Touted as the first celebrity charity auction of its kind, over 100 celebrities have signed on to participate. Fans can bid to have their favorite celebrity tweet, re/tweet or mention them on twitter. Most have various packages - some include personal phone calls from the celebrity or dinner with the celebrity. If bidding on a celebrity is not your cup of tea, donations can be given directly to A Home in Haiti. The auction continues until September 25th if you are a fan of Justin Bieber know that the bidding has already surpassed $2000!

Shaun’s merger of social media and good works is not the first of its kind but it certainly is among the most high profile. The organization has been featured on CNN, Ellen, Mashable, and a plethora of other places. In this day and age of so much negativity it is a pleasure to see the implementation of the simple concept - Love God, Love People, Prove It.  And certainly this small congregation with a Courageous leader is proving it daily.

I’ve watched Pastor Shaun and the good works of his church from behind my computer screen but I’ve been impressed by everything that he has done. I’ve finally been compelled to not only attend Courageous Church but to become a member. In typical fashion I’ve joined the tech team where I can merge my love of God and social media.


p.s. Happy Birthday Shaun!

6 comments:

Kimberly Coleman said...

That is wonderful Renee! I love when people use their (God-given) strengths to help others.

Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama said...

What an amazing testimony of how God uses our time in social media- thanks for sharing Renee. I have followed Shaun on twitter for a while and think he is an awesome man of God as well!

Fresh Mommy said...

Wow, that is just awesome!! I liked hearing your story in there as well. And I'm impressed by this man of God. Thanks for sharing. I'll be checking it out! And what a great inspiration!

:)
~Tabitha

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Banteringblonde said...

I had heard about this but hadn't looked into it- he sounds like an amazing person and I love hearing stories about people doing good with social media.

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